Alexei Ratmansky at the New York Public Library

Alexei Ratmansky, photo by Paul Kolnik

This Wednesday, October 8, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, who is the current Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet and Artist in Residence at American Ballet Theatre, will sit down with Paul Holdengräber to discuss his career. Get tickets here. The event is a co-presentation with NYU’s new Center for Ballet and the Arts.

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Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes, & Anna Bass at Town Hall

Monica Bill Barnes, Ira Glass, and Anna Bass, photo by David Bazemore

Monica Bill Barnes, Ira Glass, and Anna Bass, photo by David Bazemore

Sitting in the dark on Thursday night at Town Hall, radio host Ira Glass and dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass can be heard debating how to start their show. Ira suggests a segment not unlike what listeners hear on This American Life. The dancers prefer something with more sparkle and pizzazz. They get their way, bursting out from behind a red curtain in sequenced dresses with confetti showering onto the stage. So begins Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, which the trio has been touring across the country and made its NYC debut this past week.

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YoungArts Awareness Day – #KeepArtsAlive

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Today, the National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts), the non-profit organization that contributes to the cultural vitality of the nation by supporting the artistic development of talented young artists, is celebrating YoungArts Awareness Day, a nationwide initiative to help “keep arts alive.” Encouraging everyone who has a creative instinct to take part, YoungArts Awareness Day is featuring pop-up performances and events in Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, and New York City.

Throughout the day, YoungArts invites all artists to share their work and tell their personal story of why the arts matter on social media and to connect with YoungArts Awareness Day through the tags #keepartsalive, #youngarts, and #youngartsawarenessday.

In New York, YoungArts Alumni will be doing “Pop-Up” performances at Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle from 12:00-1:30 PM EST. YoungArts Alumni include:

  • Pascal LeBoeuf (2004, Jazz Keyboard)
  • Josh Page (2008, Classical Voice)
  • Bihn Park (2014, Cello)
  • Gabe Schnider (2011, Jazz Guitar)
  • Third Story, featuring alumni Elliott Skinner (2013, Jazz Voice), Richard Saunders (2008, Jazz Voice) and Ben Lusher (2010, Jazz Voice)
  • Caleb Teicher (2011, Tap)
  • Grace Weber, (2006, Pop Voice)
  • Mark Whitfield, Jr, (2009, Jazz Percussion)
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Ira Glass & Monica Bill Barnes & Co. on Stage in NYC

I had the pleasure of seeing Monica Bill Barnes & Co. perform with Ira Glass, host of This American Life, at Carnegie Hall last year when they opened for comedian Mike Birbiglia. The combination of radio and dance – which “have no business being together”, according to Glass – was funny, touching, and heartfelt. Since then, the dance company and radio host have expanded their show and taken it on the road to 30 cities, and now (finally!) they’re bringing Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host to NYC. Tickets are on sale for the September performances at Town Hall. Get ’em while you can, and check out the trailer below.

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Zoe | Juniper’s “BeginAgain Installed”

Zoe Scofield (center) and Ariel Freedman in "BeginAgain"

Zoe Scofield (center) and Ariel Freedman in “BeginAgain Installed”, photo by Stephen Delas Hera

As the audience entered the theater at the 3LD Art & Technology Center, a woman in a body cast rested on her side in a sea of dirt. At the center of the space was a large, triangular glass structure, with the audience seated on two sides. My neighbor remarked that it felt like we were seeing our own reflection, rather than looking at the audience across from us.

Throughout the New York premiere of BeginAgain Installed, presented last month by 3LD and The Joyce Theater and directed by choreographer Zoe Scofield and visual artist Juniper Shuey, shadows and reflections abound in a work that explored shifting identities through sound, video, music, movement, and light. The small space often felt crowded, weighed down by immersive video projections, jarring sounds, and dim lighting.

Ariel Freedman (standing) and Annie Rigney in "BeginAgain", photo by Stephen Delas Heras

Ariel Freedman (standing) and Annie Rigney in “BeginAgain Installed”, photo by Stephen Delas Heras

The movement of Ariel Freedman and Zoe Scofield, both petite and dressed in gray lace dresses, ranged from violent to tender, wild to contained. Rooted in ballet vocabulary that was often twisted into something more bizarre, BeginAgain Installed showed two sides of the same person. The triangular structure, which turned out to be both reflective and transparent, added to the feeling of being stuck, conflicted, or trapped as the two women danced frenetically within its walls. Outside of the structure, the woman in the body cast (Annie Rigney) rose from the ground and guided them, pushing an internal struggle in one direction or another.

Surrounding the dancers’ fragile relationship were menacing sounds and shadows. Silhouettes slowly moved along the walls, with Scofield and Freedman mirroring their movement in real time. The prism’s walls and other lighting choices added myriad reflections, creating a dizzying swirl of bodies. The self was even more divided, more broken, in this harrowing atmosphere.

"BeginAgain", photo by Stephen Delas Heras

“BeginAgain Installed”, photo by Stephen Delas Heras

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